|Welcome to COER’s inaugural newsletter. In the past we’ve communicated by press releases, blast emails, and letters to the editor, (and, pre-Covid, through in-person get togethers) but we’ve never been able to put out a regular newsletter. Busy as we have been at COER, the community doesn’t always see what we’ve been doing. We’ve even heard some rumors that COER shut down. Which was very surprising to us. We admit that we haven’t done a great job lately of communicating with all of you, but that’s because we’ve been working full-time, actually taking on the Navy. Up until now we haven’t had a volunteer to help us put out regular communications, including a newsletter. So we’d like to introduce you to our new communications editor, John Bruyninckx. With John’s help we hope to do a much better job of telling you what’s been going on in our marathon fight against the Growler. And we want to hear from you. John can be reached at: email@example.com; or text (no phone calls, please), to: 208-890-8233.
So what have we been up to?
Litigation is a strange creature. Usually the last resort to address problems and grievances, litigation is both dramatic and slow. Hurry up to wait! Our NEPA (National Environmental Policy Act) suit, in conjunction with Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson’s, is ongoing. Members of COER’s board and our attorneys have spent the better part of the year drafting pleadings and arguing motions. At times it was a full-time job for us. Both COER and the State of Washington filed extensive Motions for Summary Judgment against the Navy, the Navy filed Responses, we then filed Replies to their Responses, and on August 3rd we received the Navy’s Reply to our Replies (yes, quite the mouthful). Hundreds of pages of pleadings have been filed with the Court. All of which can be found on COER’s website at https://citizensofebeysreserve.com/lawsuits/documents. We are currently reviewing the Navy’s last pleading to see if we need to seek leave to file a response, but it is likely that unless the court itself asks for more, that the pleadings in this case are done. That means the case is ready to go to the Judge (or perhaps his Magistrate first) for consideration. Now we wait again. And oh yes, this case has been extremely expensive. We couldn’t have made it this far without our wonderful donors. Thank you all – you know who you are. As the case continues to proceed we will likely need to ask for more financial assistance. If you can help us fight on … please do!
COER has taken the first step in initiating an Endangered Species Act (ESA) lawsuit against the Navy. The lawsuit addresses newly revealed research indicating noise penetrates down and out from the water surface to depths and expanses not before realized with potentially detrimental impacts on fish, seabirds, and marine mammals. Per a U.S. Fish and Wildlife study, the noise is loud enough and frequent enough to create behavioral modifications that could bring about aborted or delayed attempts to reproduce, feed young and adequately provision themselves, thereby diminishing well-being and increasing risks of disease and predation loss. Fragile populations, like our Southern Resident Orcas, may not be able to withstand the added, yet preventable, losses. COER is hoping the AG will realize the risks and initiate independent legal action. In the meantime we are asking for contributions to our ESA Whale Fund in the event that we have to, and can, go it alone.
Navy noise complaint data lost in glitches
-by Jessie Stensland, Whidbey News Times
Monday, June 28, 2021, 10:45 pm — Separate computer problems at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island resulted in the loss of years of public records and the inadvertent disabling of an email address for citizens to register aircraft noise complaints, resulting in months of messages being lost in the ether of cyberspace.
The problems publicly came to light after the anti-aircraft-noise activist group Citizens of Ebey’s Reserve, commonly known as COER, submitted a Freedom of Information Act request for telephone and email noise complaints and received a response that some data had been lost.
In an email to the newspaper, a base spokesperson explained that a computer hard drive crash caused the base to lose emails that Navy personnel sent in response to citizens complaints up to October 2020. The complaints themselves were stored separately and backed up.
In August 2020, the base underwent a station-wide computer system upgrade that caused the email address for complaints to be disabled. Although complaints are reviewed each day, the Navy spokesperson reported that it took base personnel six months to realize the email address wasn’t working and that a new address was set up immediately after discovering the problem.
Base officials set up a new comment address, firstname.lastname@example.org, as well as a phone line, at 360-257-6665, that residents can use to register their concerns, according to the Navy.
The complaints submitted to the address between August 2020 and February 2021 were not received by the base. COER claimed that the Navy knew about the email address problem immediately and didn’t fix the problem until the group complained in February.
“This strange failure of the Navy’s technology and their foot-dragging attention to fixing problems seems to reveal a disingenuous interest in providing reliable communications with the public,” said Bob Wilbur, COER president.
Wilbur estimated that about 7,380 email and voice complaints about noise from the EA-18G Growler aircraft were sent in 2020, although the Navy reports receiving half that. The communities that registered the most complaints were Coupeville, Port Townsend and Oak Harbor, but the Navy also received them from communities as geographically distant as the Olympic Peninsula, La Conner, Anacortes, the San Juan Islands and South Whidbey.
According to the base, the purpose of the noise complaint system is to ensure that aircraft operations comply with FAA regulations and base operating procedures to minimize the effect the noise has on neighboring communities. The EA-18G Growler aircraft, for example, has practice routes described in an Environmental Impact Statement.
See this article in its entirety at: https://www.whidbeynewstimes.com/news/navy-noise-complaint-data-lost-in-glitches/